I would like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for gathering here today to receive dharma teachings. As requested, I will be offering you a long life initiation. But before I start with the actual initiation, I thought I would take this opportunity to say a few words. As we are all followers of the Buddha Dharma, it is important for us to think of the three precious jewels (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) on a regular basis with great faith. Why? Because if we have faith and believe in the three precious jewels, then we will most definitely receive the blessings of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. For example, long time ago there was a man named Kongpo Ben in Tibet. As a result of his deep faith in the Buddha, he was actually able to have the Buddha visit him in his village after having invited the Buddha Shakyamuni Jhowo statue in Lhasa while on a trip to Lhasa.
However, if you do not have faith in the three precious jewels, then you cannot receive their blessings due to your karma. During the time of the Shakyamuni Buddha, there was a monk called Lekpe Karma. Although he was a contemporary of the Buddha Shakyamuni and had the opportunity to be in the presence of the Buddha, the monk Lekpe Karma did not receive the blessings of the Buddha due to his own lack of faith and was born in the hell realm. Therefore, there is a strong correlation between faith and blessing. For instance, when the great Indian Pandita Atisha was asked by one of his disciples for his blessings, he responded by saying “please give me your faith and in return I shall give you my blessings”. So it is very important that we have belief and faith in the three precious jewels. Also, if you whole heartedly place your faith in the three precious jewels then you will not face any obstacles.
To illustrate this point, I will give you an example: Once there was a non-Buddhist practitioner who prayed to Shiva. Pleased by his show of devotion, Shiva presented him with a special noose. This noose had the power to kill anyone who was struck by it. One day the non-Buddhist practitioner became angered by a young boy and struck him with the noose. However, nothing happened to the young boy. He was unhurt by the powerful noose. Thinking that his special noose had lost its powers, the non-Buddhist practitioner struck a dog with it to test his theory. The dog died instantly. This incident made the non-Buddhist very suspicious and he asked the young boy “Little boy, whenever I strike someone with this noose, the noose has the power to kill that person instantly but you were unharmed even upon being struck by this noose. Tell me, what special kind of qualities do you possess? The young boy replied “I don’t have any special qualities. However, I do have belief and faith in the three precious jewels”. Upon hearing this, the non-Buddhist began to believe and have faith in the powers of the three precious jewels and hence became a Buddhist practitioner. So therefore, please bear in mind that the best method to remove all obstacles is to believe and have faith in the three precious jewels.
Another very important thing to remember is to develop and practice kind heartedness towards all beings on a daily basis. If you have a good heart and do everything with a pure motivation, you can accomplish both dharma activities as well as worldly activities with equal success. Once long ago, a devout practitioner came across a “tsa –tsa’ (clay mold containing religious symbols) lying on the road. On seeing this he became worried that the “tsa tsa” mold would melt in the rain and so with good intentions he put a shoe that he found on the roadside over the “tsa tsa”to protect it from the rain. Another devout practitioner walked by and upon seeing a shoe over the “tsa-tsa”, promptly removed the shoe off the “tsa-tsa” as he regarded the shoe as an unclean object. In the end, both these two men attained enlightenment as a result of their good intentions and pure motivations. So on a religious level, practicing kindheartedness is very important.
On a more worldly level, practicing kindheartedness is also as important. In the healing practices of traditional Tibetan medicines, Tibetan doctors are advised that the best method to heal and prolong life is through the practice of kindheartedness. Even if you make a simple “sur” offering (aroma charity offering to the spirits), do so with a good heart and in return you will receive unimaginable benefits in the form of long life, prosperity and protection. Likewise, if you recite even a single “Om Mani Padme Hum” mantra with a pure heart and good motivation then that single mantra recitation will purify your sins, prevent you from being born in a land where the Buddha’s teachings are inaccessible and dispel all illness and obstacles. So please practice kind heartedness daily.
Realizing that practicing kind heartedness is very important as a Buddhist practitioner, if you are wondering how to generate such compassion to constantly remember to practice kindness, then you should dwell on the four thoughts that will help turn your mind towards the practice of kindheartedness and compassion.
Firstly, we must realize and appreciate the precious rarity of obtaining human form. If you drop mustard seeds on a needle turned tip up, what are the chances of even one seed balancing and staying on the tip of the needle? Obtaining human life is even more difficult and rare.
Second, realize the impermanent nature of our existence. Just as the dew drops that glisten on a blade of grass in the morning will disintegrate into the earth upon being touched by the rays of the sun and is therefore impermanent, so also is the changing nature of our existence.
Third, believe and reflect upon the reality of cause and effect of every action correlating to positive and negative karma. The great Indian scholar Panchen Ngag gi Wangchuk who had the opportunity see the Buddha Avalokiteshvara in person was eventually born in the hell realm due to the bad karma he had accumulated. Even he could not escape his karma because he had unintentionally written and spread false doctrine or incorrect teachings of the Buddha.
Fourth, like the prison built by the emperor Asoka, samsara looks like blissful existence on the outside, yet is full of suffering once you are caught in its cycle. At the gates of Asoka’s prison, each prisoner was asked “what would you like to do once you step inside?” Some replied “I would like to walk around” while others responded “I would like to lie down”, “I would like to run around or I would like to sit”. Based on their responses, the prisoners were made to continuously do what they wished to do without a break. If the person wanted to walk around, he had to continue to walk around all the time without sitting or resting. If a person wished to sit, he had to sit all the time and never be allowed to stand. So a person looking in from the outside might think that these prisoners were really living it up and doing whatever they wished to do, but inside the prison, the prisoners led a life of hardship even while doing the things they actually wanted to do in the first place. Similarly samsara is a happy place on the surface but the true essence of samsara is suffering. If you reflect upon the four thoughts above, you will be compelled to turn your mind towards the practice of kindheartedness. So please focus on these four thoughts and make an effort to practice kindheartedness in your daily lives.